Patio Garden Renovations

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Water Wise Landscaping can transform your patio with a custom garden design and installation. At this home in Alameda, a sunny but overgrown patio became a welcoming space for the family to gather and tend to the fruits and vegetables.  Call (510) … Continue reading

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Dwarf Mandarin Citrus in half wine barrel.

Dwarf Mandarin Citrus in half wine barrel.

Planters and potted plants are great additions to outdoor seating areas, decks, and balconies. Planters create garden spaces within seating areas, whether ceramic, wooden, terra cotta, stone, plastic or other material. A colorful and varied planting will provide an elegant natural focal point. Other options for potted plants include dwarf citrus varieties, succulents, ornamental shrubs or edible vegetables.

Investing in beautiful planters will enhance even the smallest of urban patios.  Water Wise Landscaping can install a variety of pots and planters to suit any space. Add an automatic drip irrigation system to keep the plants root healthy because soil in pots tend to dry out much quicker than the ground soil.



Kale in custom built redwood veggie box

Kale in custom built redwood veggie box

Small planters with creative plant selection.

Small ceramic planters with creative plant selection.

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Lose your Lawn.

Lose your lawn for a mulched garden with a mixed planting of beautiful low-water plants. When drip irrigation is installed in a plant-to-plant manner, significant water savings can be achieved compared to a lawn watered by lawn sprinklers. Water Wise Landscaping can convert your lawn into a colorful garden watered with efficient drip irrigation system. A mixed planting of low-water plants is not only more interesting and more colorful than a lawn, it is more appropriate for the Mediterranean climate of the Bay Area.

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January Photos

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Re-imagine your Garden!

Water Wise Landscaping specializes in the installation new gardens and the renovation of older garden spaces. Re-imagine your garden with low-water, low maintenance, colorful, California flora installed and maintained by Water Wise.

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Spring Wildflower Season Pictures

Spring is wildflower season in the Bay Area! Did you know that the San Francisco Bay’s climate only as three true seasons? They are: wildflower season, summer, and the rainy season.  The wildflower season starts as early as mid-February as the rains turn the golden hills green and our gardens into flower filled sanctuaries. A photograph is worth a thousand words, so let’s enjoy some photos of gardens maintained by Water Wise Landscaping.


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Small Tree Removal

 Trees are an important part of any garden, but there are times when tree removal is imperative.  Especially for diseased or hazardous trees, removal is sometimes the best, most economical solution. Water Wise Landscaping can remove small trees and the root stump.  With the root stump dug out, replanting the site can occur immediately.  The types of trees that Water Wise Landscaping can remove include those under 15 – 20 feet tall, like fruit trees and ornamental trees as well as some larger shrubs that might be considered trees.

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Recirculating Fountains

Recirculating fountains are a fantastic addition to any garden. Fountains are a water wise solution to urban noise and unique garden focal points. Water Wise Landscaping can quickly install a custom built or pre-fabricated fountain. Homeowners with limited outdoor space: you will love the small footprint of a fountain and the big improvement it can make!

Recirculating fountains require regular water change and cleaning. Water Wise Landscaping recommends setting your new fountain on a timer to save electricity and customize the run time. Call Sarah at 510-985-0148 for a price estimate on a new fountain installation.

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Raking leaves is part of Integrated Pest Management

December is here and so are the seasonal rains. One quirk about the Bay Area climate is that many decidous trees will hold onto their green leaves until the first heavy rain of the season.  That means that while other parts of the country are seeing snow, homeowners here are seeing some of the best weeks of seasonal color on their trees and gardeners are very busy raking leaves.

Raking leaves is an important part of Integrated Pest Management of residential gardens.   All those fallen leaves harbor insect pests and diseases of the trees that they fell from.  When we collect the leaves and dispose of them in the municipal compost, we reduce the number of pests and diseases that can attack the trees. Many fungal diseases will re-infect the trees from spores that are released from the leaf litter in the spring. Leaf litter is great for the home compost heap but if your heap is not actively composting properly, the pests won’t be killed.

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Trees and tree stakes

Southern Magnolia – Proper staking, but left too long. Also this tree should have low, temporary branches removed.

There are times when trees require staking but all staking should be temporary. Unfortunately, more often than not, tree stakes are left in place too long and damage the tree!

Stakes are needed at planting time in areas of strong wind or if the tree needs support standing vertical on it’s own. In urban areas, young trees are often double or triple staked to survive the urban environment and vandalism.

Any stakes used at the time of planting should be removed within one to two years time. All too common is the scenario where a tree stake causes major wounds and injury to a tree as the tree grows larger.

Many trees come from the store with a stake tied in multiple spots against their trunk.  This nursery stake should always be removed at the time of planting.  If the tree needs to be staked for support or protection, stakes should be put on the outside of the root ball at planting and lashed to the tree at one height with supple, non-restrictive material.

Another example of nursery stake left on large tree too long. This stake will certainly damage the truck of this Strawberry tree if not removed soon.

Too much staking for a small tree. The nursery stake has been left on and it was planted with a second lodge pole stake. Both have now outgrown their usefulness.


As soon as the tree has rooted into the new location, remove those stakes!

Trees need to sway in the wind to develop healthy structure and wounds to the bark that stakes and rigid staking will cause can let harmful fungus and disease into the tree.


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Replace Your Lawn

Areas of lawn require enormous amounts of water and nitrogen fertilizer when compared with any other ornamental planting.  Lawns as a feature of a garden originated in the United Kingdom, where frequent rain and overcast skies allow the lawns to thrive without additional irrigation. Here in the East Bay, lawns require regular irrigation throughout the long dry season.  That irrigation is costing you, the homeowner, money.  As a homeowner, you may have already consider alternatives to a lawn that will save you money on water bills as well as provide aesthetic qualities more suited to our California climate.

Water Wise Landscaping can help you achieve the lawn make-over of your dreams.  Whether you are interested in installing a native clump grass “lawn,” or sheet mulching then planting drought tolerant options, Water Wise Landscaping has the expertise and experience to streamline your renovation. We provide services in design, sheet mulching, planting, and irrigation retrofit that will get the project quickly started and finished on time and on budget.

Contact Water Wise Landscaping at (510) 985-0148 to discuss specific plans to turn your garden into a Water Wise garden.

If you love your lawn and just want to repair some dead spots or adjust your irrigation, Water Wise can help with that! Did you know that the even distribution of water from your lawn sprinklers is crucial for a lush, green lawn? Or that mowing your lawn just an inch or two higher will allow it to thrive with less water and rebound from heavy use better? Remember that lawns need regular de-thatching, fertilizing, aeration, re-seeding and proper mowing to stay beautiful. Water Wise can help revive your worn down lawn with proper care and repair services.

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Native and Drought Tolerant Gardens

A drought tolerant plant from the Mediterranean: Rockrose (Cistus variety).

Water wise gardens use native and drought tolerant plants like Flowering Currant and Cleveland Sage instead of water thirsty plants.  There is an abundance of plants to design water-friendly gardens including many from the Mediterranean region like Lavender or Strawberry Trees, as well as those from Australia like the Tea Tree, or from New Zealand like Flax and even South African plants like Protea. One thing that all of these plants have in common is that they are from areas with long, dry summers followed by a wet, mild winters.  Similar natural habitats make these plants well suited to the dry season of Oakland, California. Consult with Water Wise Landscaping for your drought tolerant garden design and installation.

Newly planted Flowering Currant and Cleveland Sage will soon grow to obscure the property line fence in this Oakland dry garden.


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Aesthetic Prune Rhododendrons, Camellias

Rhododendron flower

For two weeks a year, Rhododendrons really put on a flowering show. Rhododendrons in gardens in the East Bay are just finishing their main bloom for the year.  The dry winter with late rains have pushed their flower cycle into May this year.  As the flowers on your tree start to fade, you will want to promptly prune the tree for the year.  Never prune off more than a third of the total canopy at once.  And if the plant is weak or sickly, do not prune at all. Rhododendrons carry their flowers on large flowering stalks, which do not readily fall off by themselves.  Depending on the size of the plant, a diligent gardener will pinch off the spent flowering stalks to give the plant it’s best look.  Fertilize all rhododendrons with an acid-type fertilizer according to the recommendations on the label.  Think about adding a thick layer of mulch to keep moisture in the soil before the long dry summer hits. If you have problems with thrips making your rhododendron leaves look silver and spotted, call Water Wise Landscaping for a diagnosis and solutions for this common pest problem.

Camellia sasanqua

Camellia sasanqua

Similarly, Camellias are now finished blooming.  Prune back overgrowth to shape the camellia.  Many gardeners shear camellias, and although they can take this type of maintenance, I recommend never shearing.  Shearing misses highlighting what can be a beautiful and aesthetic tree. Try making thinning cuts mixed in with heading cuts with hand clippers. Thinning cuts will allow air and light to enter into the shrub and will give the plant a lot more aesthetic appeal if done right.  Try to make your cuts just above a budding site, and at a slight angle.  Focusing on making cuts that are right above the budding site without damaging the new leaf bud will allow the tree to quickly heal over these cuts in the future.  Call in a trained aesthetic pruner from Water Wise Landscaping (510) 985-0148 for pruning service that will transform that tired, background camellia into a focal point of your garden.

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A Sprinkler Head Revolution: MP Rotator

You might not think of innovation in sprinkler heads as exciting, but you probably haven’t heard about the Hunter Industries MP Rotator sprinkler head.

The new technology in the pop-up sprinkler head allows it to dispense water at a significantly reduced rate compared to other common sprinkler heads, while still projecting the water distances of 8′ to 30′ and offering adjustable arc and radius.  This allows the soils that are being irrigated to absorb the water with significantly less wasted run-off. Applying water slowly is especially important for lawns, clay soils, and hillside gardens like those found at many East Bay homes. Upgrading to this sprinkler nozzle is a great way to increase the efficiency of your irrigation system while reducing water use.

Water Wise for your irrigation design, installation and repair

The best part of Hunter Industries MP Rotator head is that they can be ordered compatible for either Rain Bird brand sprinkler bodies or Toro brand sprinkler bodies, so installation is quick. Call Water Wise Landscaping at (510) 985-0148 for a professional irrigation system evaluation.



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The Importance of Hiring Licensed Contractors

A California native, Ceanothus, blooms next to low-voltage outdoor lighting.

California law is clear. Any landscaping or construction work with a value of $500 or more for labor and materials MUST be performed by a licensed contractor.  Why is it important to hire only state licensed contractors?

When a business or homeowner hires a licensed contractor, the state of California is ensuring that:

1. The contractor has demonstrated adequate knowledge and journeyman experience of their trade.

2. The contractor has passed an extensive background check that ensures they have not committed fraud or violent crimes in the past.

3. A performance bond is posted from all licensed contractors.  That performance bond guarantees the client will have financial recourse if the contract is not completed to specifications or code.

Contracting without a license is a crime. Unlicensed contractors are ignoring state law and their professional duties. Clients should be wary of such “professionals.”  These independent contractors undercut fully licensed businesses by offering cheap services while cutting corners on standard business practices, like paying taxes or providing workers’ compensation insurance.

The Contractors’ State Licensing Board has an informative and useful website for checking licenses and reporting unlicensed activity at  Be sure to support fully licensed contractors for your next home improvement.



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Fertilize for Spring Growth

Daffodils provide early spring blooms.

As the month of March passes, so does the chance of frost in the San Francisco Bay area.  Temperatures slowly creep up while rain continues. Check the weather forecast for night-time temperatures staying above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Above this temperature, abundant, vigorous growth is soon to appear.  Many plants begin to show signs of spring growth, or they begin to flower, which proceeds their growth cycle.  The time to fertilize is as new, green shoots begin to grow.

Roses, Citrus, Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Hydrangea can all receive complete fertilizers for acid loving plants. Check requirements for other shrubs and potted plants or call the trained specialists at Water Wise Landscaping at (510) 985-0148 for on-site maintenance.  Iron deficiency in citrus trees is common in the East Bay. Now is a good time to treat yellowing from iron deficiency by applying an iron chelate as directed on the label. Cool season lawns will also benefit from an application of high-nitrogen fertilizer.

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Schedule an Annual Irrigation System Check

Have you been digging in your garden beds in the last year?  Chances are you may have accidentally cut into your drip irrigation lines. Or do you have irrigation repairs that you have been meaning to address but don’t have time to get to? If it has been years since a trained professional has looked over your system, don’t worry – Just Call Water Wise! Leave the hassle of maintenance and repair to the professionals. Call Water Wise Landscaping (510) 985-0148 to schedule an irrigation system check.

Water Wise for your irrigation and garden maintenance service

Many homeowners in Oakland run irrigation systems to water their gardens throughout the long dry season.  Every irrigation system, whether drip or sprinklers, should be tested for functionality no less than once per year.  Failure to check your system for damage can lead to wasted money on water bills, or worse – possible plant death due to improper watering.

Now is an excellent time to do yearly maintenance and a system audit. The program running your irrigation controller should be thoughtfully adjusted for your gardens changing needs as plants age and grow. During the Water Wise Landscaping annual check,  we will replace the back-up battery on your controller, so that your gardens won’t be out of luck in the event of power outage. Plus, you can rest assured that we only use name brand irrigation supplies like Rain Bird, Hunter, and Toro – never cheaper quality imitation brands.


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Bare-root roses, fruit trees, and more

Now is the time to purchase bare-root plants at the local nursery. Roses, deciduous fruit trees, nut trees, cane berries, grapes, clematis, wisteria, and forsythia can all be found bare-root for purchase now.

Bare-root means that the plants come with their roots wrapped in moist paper or sawdust, not in soil. They are available to the customer at significantly lower prices than just a few months from now, when the same plants have been potted up with soil.

Bare root plants will thrive when planted correctly. They should be planted as soon as possible,  when the soil is moist but not too waterlogged to dig. Call the planting specialist at Water Wise (510) 985-0148 now to enhance your gardens with new additions.

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The San Francisco Bay area only has a few nights with frost a year.  But these infrequent cold temperatures pose a threat to some of the sub-tropical plants that we like to grow- like Citrus, Bougainvillea, Hibiscus and Tibouchina. What can we do to help these plants during cold nights?

Especially for small, potted, or newly planted specimens, a little extra care will help them through the frost. Make sure your plants are well watered. Overhead watering, while making the leaves and stems wet, is appropriate in this situation. If they are in pots that can be moved to a sheltered location, near your house or under larger plants, do so.  Otherwise, find three or four stakes that are slightly longer than your plant is tall, and put them into to ground around the plant’s dripline so that they can be used to drape plastic sheeting over your plant. Throw the tarp or plastic sheet over the stakes, creating an instant greenhouse. Check to see that the plastic hovers over the plant for the best frost protection, not resting on the plant.  Be sure to take the plastic off of the plants the next morning.

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January is Rose Pruning Time!

January is rose pruning time in the San Fransisco Bay area.  Whether the weather is rainy or sunny, be sure to call Water Wise to have your roses pruned for structure, disease control, and optimum future growth by our experienced gardeners. Hurry to get an appointment scheduled before mid-February.

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